Merry Christmas Eve, all!
I’m not always good at posting on holidays, so I’m writing this at 10:00 PM Christmas-Eve Eve, Pacific time, to make sure I didn’t miss it.
Today I baked some almond sugar cookies (a strangely exhausting endeavor) and recorded parts 6 & 7 of my Christmas Carol audiobook. It’s running a bit behind schedule but will be finished by this weekend.
I am so enjoying reading A Christmas Carol! I thought I knew it by heart from different film and radio productions, but the small moments that don’t make it to the screen really grab me. The emotions of the story ring truer this year than any. I’ve choked up a few times and am not even at the end yet…
2020 in Books
The year is not over, but here is my Goodreads “year in books” thus far…
My Favorite Book
Yes… it’s still The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham. I did a video analysis of the novel back in February. It was impossible for any book the remainder of the year to live up to this, even though I read some amazing books. Allow me to be dramatic… this one just resonated with my very soul.
Reading the World
In June, one of my good friends suggested we do a buddy read of books from different countries. I was very excited about this, because I feel world literature has not been my strong point in the past. We read and discussed these books:
- Malicroix – Henri Bosco – France
- The Rings of Saturn – W. G. Sebald – Germany
- The Houseguest and Other Stories – Amparo Dávila – Mexico
- Lincoln in the Bardo – George Saunders – U.S.
- Kristin Lavransdatter: The Wreath – Sigrid Undset – Norway
- Miss Julie & Other Plays – August Strindberg – Sweden
- Datura – Leena Krohn – Finland (still in progress)
My two favorites from this project so far have been The Rings of Saturn and Datura, incidentally somewhat similar in that they mix nonfiction with fiction.
Exploring My Heritage
One of my personal goals for 2020 was learning more about Asian literature and history. Though I regret not reading any books about Vietnam, I did better on this goal than I would’ve expected:
- A History of East Asia – Charles Holcombe
- Chinese Poems – Edited by Arthur Waley
- The Painted Veil – W. Somerset Maugham (set in 1920s Hong Kong)
- Five by Endo – Shusaku Endo
- Silence – Shusaku Endo
- The Memory Police – Yoko Ogawa
- The Red Years: Forbidden Poems from Inside North Korea – Bandi
- Xi Jinping: The Backlash – Richard McGregor
- North Korea’s Hidden Revolution – Jieun Baek
- Interior Chinatown – Charles Yu
- They Called Us Enemy – George Takei
- The Setting Sun – Osamu Dazai
- “Aguri” – Tanizaki Junichiro
- “Honey Pie” – Haruki Murakami
Through Instagram, I found an excellent teacher who gives online classes in Japanese literature. Ikuya leads structured, small group lessons with a combination of history, biography, and moderated discussions of Japanese short stories. I’ve learned a ton from the two lessons I’ve taken so far, and I can’t wait to take more next year.
Personally speaking, this was a year of many new experiences, tests, and struggles. Reading was sometimes difficult—it was hard getting out of my own head, while surrounded by all kinds of catastrophes. I feel very grateful to be alive, to have dear family and caring friends, and to be able to continue blogging and YouTubing about books like this.
I have no great expectations that next year will be an improvement, but I do know that I’m more prepared for it. 😉
Pun intended… I’m gearing up to read David Copperfield, as soon as I can get my hands on a copy. (Still under book buying ban, may have to break it a little early to take advantage of my time off.)
Other than that, and continuing the above projects, I don’t have any solid reading plans for next year. I might need to take a break from YouTube in January, depending on how busy work and other commitments get. We’ll see how it goes…
The book I’m most looking forward to in 2021 is Klara and the Sun, Ishiguro’s new novel. I’m already in line for the library ebook!